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On Maitri Diwas Modi and Hasina flag next steps to bond India and Bangladesh

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina (File photo)

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart, Sheikh Hasina, flagged next steps to elevate New Delhi-Dhaka ties to the next level, riding on what has already been accomplished by the two neighbours during the five decades that have followed Bangladesh's liberation in 1971.

In a tweet, Modi said, “Today India and Bangladesh commemorate Maitri Diwas. We jointly recall and celebrate the foundations of our 50 years of friendship. I look forward to continue working with H.E. PM Sheikh Hasina to further expand and deepen our ties.”  

After Bangladesh gained independence, India recognised the country on December 6, 1971. The occasion is being celebrated as Maitri Diwas.

Modi, during his visit to Dhaka in March to participate in the celebrations commemorating 50 years of independence of the South Asian nation described Bangladesh as a “soho jatri” or a co-traveller in the development of the region.

Also read: Maitri Diwas: From physical to emotional connectivity—the way forward for Indo-Bangladesh ties

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina stressed the need to enhance people-to -people contacts, connectivity and economic activities between the two neighbours that share a 4,096-km long border—the fifth longest in the world.

According to the Daily Star, the leader of the South Asian nation, in a two-minute video message said that the two neighbours must reaffirm their efforts to strengthen bilateral ties.

"We continue to believe in the importance of our relationship. At the same time, this (50th) anniversary is an opportunity to reflect on the foundation of our bilateral relations and the path ahead. It is an occasion also to recommit ourselves to work towards further strengthening the longstanding dynamic partnership between Bangladesh and India," Hasina said.

As many as 20 countries across the world, including Singapore, Belgium, Canada, Russia, Egypt, Indonesia, Qatar, the UK, France, Australia, Japan and Saudi Arabia among others are observing the Maitri Diwas.

However, Hasina also said that India-Bangladesh relations are not confined to just treaties and bilateral agreements that provide the formal structures to working relations. “Today, our broad partnership has matured, taking dynamic, comprehensive and strategic shape, and is based on sovereignty, equality, trust and mutual respect," she said.

Also read: 1971 war veterans honoured as 50th anniversary of the liberation of Bangladesh inches closer

Speaking exclusively to India Narrative, Bangladesh’s (Retd) Air Commodore Ishfaq Ilahi Choudhury said, “We cannot expect that India will prosper with Bangladesh in poverty or vice versa.. The future of India and Bangladesh are tied and intertwined with each other.” He said physical connectivity along with emotional connectivity will be critical to further cement relations. Connectivity though roads, railways and waterways is now already the thrust.

“Bay of Bengal is increasingly in focus. So we need to develop our relationship, we need to develop our confidence,” he said.